Arsenal v Porto: injured Cesc Fabregas out of Champions League last 16 second leg contest

08 March 2010 12:16
The injury was sustained in the first-half of Saturday's 3-1 win against Burnley and is a recurrence of a problem Fabregas also had earlier this season.

'He's ruled out for tomorrow's game we can't take a gamble,' said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. 'He has damaged his hamstring. Ideally you want him there but the absence of Cesc is not any excuse, we have enough players and a strong enough squad.'

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'We are all convinced it will be small amount of time next weekend he has a small chance against Hull, if not the week after. To play again tomorrow would be significant damage and be out for a month. He gave a lot, he plays in every single game. We have to find out why it is always the same hamstring.'

The absence of Fabregas means that Samir Nasri is likely to continue in central midfield after excelling on Saturday against Burnley.

'He started the season with a fibula fracture and it took him a while to get back to his best,' said Wenger. 'Now he gets stronger, more confident. He is very versatile and can play defensive midfielder, attacking midfielder or on the flanks. We have a few like that and I love that. If you ask any player they say they want to play in middle but with his pace he can play on the flanks as well.'

Arsenal have never previously overcome a first leg deficit to progress in the Champions League but must score at least once to stay in the competition after losing 2-1 in controversial circumstances in Portugal two weeks ago.

'We have a good opportunity, we have good chances to make history,' said Wenger. 'To score away from home is still a massive advantage in Uefa rules; that is why we are confident that we can do it. We have scored, that is a massive difference. 1-0 away would be a terrible result. It's completely different. We know it's a tricky game. We believe we can do it, we have good confidence, we are in a good position so let's just go for it. Any scenario that qualifies us is positive."

Wenger also says that he retains full confidence in Nicklas Bendtner, despite all the chances that the Dane missed on Saturday. 'He is on the way up in his overall game and contribution,' said Wenger. 'He isolates the factor why he missed and gets it right into the next game. I'm convinced that he is really improving at the moment. For me, it was an isolated game.'

Source: Telegraph